The university recorded more drug law violations and fewer liquor law violations in 2017 than a year earlier, according to annual crime statistics released by the ACU Police Department.
The annual report was in released in compliance with the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Crime Statistics Act, which is named for a college student murdered in her dorm room at Lehigh University in 1986. The Department of Education requires campus police departments to publish the records in October of each year for the previous three calendar years. ACUPD is required to distribute the report to all current and prospective students and employees.
There were seven on-campus burglaries in 2017, down from 10 in 2016, eight on-campus drug violations, up from seven and seven 0n-campus liquor law violations compared to 12 the previous year.
“We are a community of 6,000 humans surrounded by a community of 120,000 humans, so crime is an unfortunate reality that ACUPD works hard to keep as low as possible, while tracking crime trends and data very closely,” said ACU Police Chief Jimmy Ellison, who compiled the report.
The national numbers are not public until Oct. 18, but compared to other schools similar in size and religious affiliation (Harding University, Pepperdine University and Lipscomb University), ACU has higher crime rates in a few areas. In 2016, ACU had 12 liquor law violations, and the other three had none.
Ellison said the Clery report requires all university police departments to use the same criteria on how to report crimes, but some schools may appear to have exceptionally low numbers because they may only have security departments, which have no arrest authority, thus arrests and citations may not occur. Instead, students are only referred to campus officials for discipline.
ACU operates a licensed police department, so on-campus violations, such as alcohol and drug related offenses, result in arrest or citation and also get referred to Student Life for disciplinary action, Ellison clarified.
Despite an increase in five categories (rape (sexual assault), aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft, drug violations (arrests), liquor law violations (arrests), liquor law violations (referrals for disciplinary action) and dating violence), Ellison said he is grateful of the growing culture of awareness and reporting on campus.
“One of the things I’m proud about at ACU is that we have developed a campus culture of being vigilant toward crime, and when crime does occur, our campus community has become exceptional at reporting it,” Ellison said. “An increase in number also means we’ve achieved an increase in awareness and reporting. More victims are getting the resources they need.”
The Clery report uses national language to identify each topic of crime. Ellison said the report uses “rape,” but it can also be identified as sexual assault. He also clarified that dating violence occurs between individuals in a dating or social relationship, whereas domestic violence is violence that has occurred between spouses, former spouses or two people who share a child together.
In 2017, there were no reported cases of domestic violence, but three of dating violence. There were four reported rape incidents.
“One sexual assault case is one too many,” Ellison said. “There are many factors in play, and sadly, rape statistics nationwide might be a by-product of the overly sexualized culture we live in these days. Rapes on college campuses usually involve known suspects, and occur within a dating situation. This was the situation last year with four reported rapes, and while I wish we had zero, I’m also proud of the fact that four women had the courage to come forward and report that they were sexually assaulted.”
Ellison said it’s always hard to determine who to attribute change in numbers to, but as far as the reduction in alcohol violations, he believes it is better training, awareness among Residence Life staff and high standards in ACU culture.
“I’ll acknowledge the fact that these could be statistical variations, but I also like to tout the fact that there’s great effort among res hall professionals to instill a culture of respect,” Ellison said. “Hopefully, people are respecting the dry campus rules. Hopefully, they’re respecting the legal drinking age rule.”
In 2017, there were seven liquor law violations, all of which were in a dorm.
“If ACUPD responds to an alcohol incident, and there’s five people in violation of the law, that’s one incident we have responded to, but it’s going to get counted as five offenses because there’s five people in violation of the law,” Ellison said.
Faith-based institutions tend to have lower drug and alcohol numbers, according to Ellison. He said it can be attributable to culture, expectations and accountability, or could be that most faith-based institutions have dry campuses.
In addition, not all on-campus crime occurs by university students. Ellison said Clery statistics are geared at geography, where the crime occurred, as opposed to who the offender is. The emphasis is to report crimes on campus, on other properties owned by ACU or in public streets and sidewalks immediately adjacent to the campus.
“The intention of Clery is to give members of the campus community the ability to make informed decisions about their safety based on public crime data,” Ellison said. “The downside to Clery is that it has become so complicated and so complex that it can be rather difficult, at times, for the general public to even understand. It has great intentions, but there’s a lot of complexities behind the curtain.
“I’m very satisfied with our reductions. I think they speak to awareness. I think we do a great job at ACUPD of educating our community,” Ellison said.